wet in rain

rain-07

Dry in rain, not feeling the smile. Mind’s away, at least a mile.

Feeling the love and loving the feel. But even so, I hate to kneel.

Not a fan of such sweet pain. I like my love clear & plain.

Go away, you’re playing my mind. Pure evil disguised in kind.

I want to smile, get wet in rain.
Let’s go back to where things are sane.

makkhan maar ke

astrology

Out of 7.125 billion, there are only a handful of humans who are dependable. I happen to know one such man and he is family. His first influence on me started with timeless discussions on astrology. Here’s a confession – I suffer from short term as well as long term memory loss but to this day, I can never forget the author Linda Goodman. I was probably only 9 or 10 years old and had other problems in life but the background of starry arguments stayed with me – arguments over how you can easily divide the world population exactly in 12 and expect everyone in that sector to share the same qualities, and how it’s the aftermath of movement and relative positioning of celestial bodies. I don’t have the answer to that question and I can’t force myself to believe the division-by-12 rule, but somehow the description of Aries defines me down to a tee. Anyways, after hours spent in this fruitless discussion, we would all be tired, forget about the stars, and start singing – ‘neele-neele ambar par’.

From those night-outs to this day, it has been a memorable journey – a journey full of ice cream sundaes, serious discussions about the purpose of life, senseless laughter, forgetting & forgiving, frosty trips to Manali, and countless aloo-gobhi-paneer parathas – makkhan maar ke! I have been welcomed, I have been loved, and I have been spoilt. But my favorite part about him, and what I admire the most is him just being there – in the bad times, at the toughest hours, without hesitation.

What you do creates a ripple effect and spreads across. What you give is priceless and with all your heart. So thank you for being there in good times and bad, in joy and tears, in sickness and health. Thank you from the bottom of my heart – you can always count on me.

5 minute vacuum

Technology may be pulling us forward, but our habits have all gone wrong. We wake up to the cacophonies of an iPhone. We engage in 13 actions and respond to 17 emails before even brushing our teeth. We get distracted constantly by constant text messages, useless Linked anniversaries, and invites to play Candy Crush Saga. And now we rely on technology to tell us how sound our sleep was. The goal of every vacation has shrunk to competitively capture the beauty on Instagram. The phrase ‘good morning, so good to see you!’ has been replaced with a lazy-ass soft chin-up movement. How many friends do we have on Facebook that we’ve never even said ‘hello’ to? Those five minutes of ‘nothing-to-do’ vacuum puts a scare and we quickly grab onto any piece of electronic item available in sight.

I wish to go backwards when the times were simpler – the days when your mom woke you up, the days when you ran to the mailbox in hopes of finding a hand-written letter, the days when you didn’t know who’s knocking on your door – lesser bills, blank calendars, and the days of calmer thoughts.

It won’t happen in a day, week, or a month – but slowly and gently, we could insert some old times. A few ideas that I’ve personally implemented:

Deactivate vibration, light-sensor, sounds, and notifications on cell phone. I’ll see that you called, texted, tagged when I see it. I started with constantly looking at my phone every 2 mins, but it has since decreased significantly. At least this way, I can give my full attention to the slice of hazelnut cake, a conversation, or even a thought. Writing this in a stretch also comes easy.

Leave cell phone home when going for crossfit and yoga. After 90 minutes of hard core effort in deep breathing and pushing away the stubborn thoughts, I see a few jumping on their phones eager and desperate to know what changed in those 90 minutes.

Forget your cell phone in the car when going for groceries. I can’t say for all, but grocery shopping brings a natural smile on my face – it’s a Disneyland for the cooking-enthusiasts. Picking just the right bunch of cilantro, comparing fiber content on 8 kinds of multi-grain breads, and choosing the top 2 from the 200 avocados that all look the same is a delight.

Interact once a day, choose to walk up to a person instead of calling or emailing. Say hi, share a joke, exchange a firm handshake, and collect points on human interaction.

Block it all and create a no-screen day – no TV, no iPad, no smart phone, and no laptop. Instead, spend a few hours at Barnes & Nobles, pick up a book to research on your next travel, the Anatomy of your spirit, the Economist, or get updated on the latest Hollywood gossip. If not a fan, walk to the farmer’s market and pick the top 2 avocados. Start a sketch book. Create a puzzle. Write a letter.

Relinquish and let others win – At a meeting, happy hour, or dinner, stack up your S4’s, iPhones, and the rest who think they’re even in the competition! The first one to pull their phone has to pay the bill. I recently forced my ex-boss and colleagues on this and guess who paid the bill?

Create a vacuum for 5-minutes. Think of nothing. Think nothing. Do nothing.

Smile. Create a 5-minute smile window. Smile for the good things in and around you. Smile while remembering a loving moment. Smile for that time when you farted and no one noticed. Smile for falling down in the water while learning how to paddleboard. Smile while thinking of me. Smile for it’s free with no disclaimers in tiny text. Smile just because this exercise feels ridiculous. If nothing, go ahead and click play!

pseudo cirque de soleil

I don’t know how time has flown and changed from dreading for a quiz to listening to Pitbull at the Aria resort in Vegas along with the other 2300 victims. The Ingram ONE welcome reception is at the pool side and the pseudo cirque de soleil charismatics are hired to distract us from the less-than-lustrous business conversations revolving around SMB, cloud, and the future of electronic data storage. The ingrained beats are an opportunity to upgrade my iTunes list. The luminous lights are making me squint my eyes and enjoy the platter full of accomplishments. The gin with ginger ale is making it all very easy. The perks seem sweeter since I started from nothing and pulled myself up inch after inch. It wasn’t easy or handed to me – the path came with a heavy load of speed bumps & challenges – ridicule, blame, discouragement, jealousy, and haters. But I kept my eyes on the destination, ignored the ignorants, and accelerated with a smile.

I don’t know what else there is but I’m enjoying every single bit of what this is – vivere nel momente

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live in the moment

pancakes venn

Let flour = past; egg = present; milk = future.

We are always making pancakes. At any given moment, we are either regretting the past or worrying about the future and in either case, our present becomes the victim. In scenario pasta, we let our past affect our present – we over analyze after the fact, we go through a realization phase, and we burden ourselves with regrets. In scenario omelette, we ruin our present worrying about the future – we surround ourselves with the 3 devils: paranoia, restlessness, and insecurity. We waste hours wondering, almost inviting our next attack. My favorite scenario is scenario batter where we pull ourselves out of the equation, grab some popcorn, and watch what becomes of our future as an audience.

What’s done is done and nothing can be done about it. We also have no visibility into what’s arriving – so why waste time reliving the past and fearing the unknown? Imagine mixing flour, egg, and milk together and then trying to segregate the ingredients in their original raw form. It is not only difficult, it is impossible. This mumbo-jumbo of past, present and future makes us crazy. No wonder we are exhausted, constipated, and REM-sleep deprived.

Remove the unnecessary, clear out your day, and gift yourself an extra time slot – go challenge your flexibility, try out the latest flavor at Yogurtland, or chase some waves. Forgive someone on your black list and stand on the weighing scale – you will be lighter. Wipe your mind clear of expectations before approaching a kiss. Close your eyes, inhale deeply, and let your taste buds enjoy the very first bite of a fresh fruit tart even if you have to run an extra 400 meters tomorrow. Give every feeling, every emotion, and every sensation a complete chance to make an impression. Experience each of the five senses in its purest form. Let the moment indulge you. Let the feeling overwhelm you.

Remember, space is limited. You’ve got to squeeze out the past and the future so you can squeeze in the present.

feeling the feeling

As soon as a soldier puts down his sword to rest, that’s when he gets attacked. I don’t know what emotion this is but this is my current emotion. I feel unprepared for an upcoming surprise attack. Someone’s watching hidden from a corner and waiting for me to put my sword down. And I can’t relax if I’m alert; the sword weighs me down. How do I close my eyes, how do I drink water, how do I exhale? And so I feel helplessly unprotected. This reminds me of a childhood chase dream I get once every 5 years – a gorilla, a very hairy gorilla with thick black hair is chasing to hunt me down in the middle of the forest and the only way out is to outrun him but I can’t make my feet move an inch.

I firmly believe in feeling the feeling. Acknowledge it. Welcome it. Analyze it. Understand it. Challenge it. Befriend it. Then wear a smile and say goodbye. If not, it may chase you down in form of a gorilla, a very hairy gorilla with thick black hair. And so that’s what I’m doing – I’m feeling the feeling.

prepare for war

SuperMarioBrosFastFoes

Your health journey can easily be compared to the Super Mario game. You will come across hurdles every step of the way. You will need to dodge a few distractions, punch a few challenges, and crush a few temptations. If attacked, you might need to start again. Don’t worry – there are unlimited chances. But you will have your best chance at accomplishing any level if you focus, remember what not to repeat, and proactively prepare.

Now leave the game. In the health world, allocate 10 minutes on Sunday to formulate a list and leave a few hours to shop for the upcoming week. The key is to restock your fridge in a way that when your tummy goes hungry, there is only the good stuff available. Don’t just wing it – put in some thought, analyze the upcoming intake, and divide it up into protein, unsaturated fats, low glycemic-index (GI) carbs, and lots of fiber. In addition to these, there will be moments of weakness when you can’t take this anymore. Your mind will be at war with your heart. With taste buds angry, senses all messed up, and mental strength at its all-time low, you will need to know how to prepare for inevitable cravings for cheese and chocolate. The more you endure now, the weakest you’ll be later. So go ahead and plan for those as well – but pick the least-worst ones. If you are too meticulous, divide it up into portions – that’s what zip-locks are for!

Now leave the health. Back to game. Be a Super Mario and prepare for war.

pray for Anya

Anand & Preethi came to US on a 6 months project at Google. They not only brought their software skills, but also their soft charms. Anand mesmerizes the crowd when he sings ‘Mitwa’ and Preethi reveals her magic in the kitchen. If I were to pin a finger on one quality that would be Preethi’s wide smile showing extra clean & whiter-than-the-color white teeth – so white that mine look yellow in comparison! I know them from my good old band days – from 6 years ago.

Even though I physically moved from the Bay Area, I have seen their life story, and their life surrounding little Anya through Facebook. I have seen her grow from 0 to almost 4 along with her art, her dancing, and her mischiefs. I have seen her getting spoilt by both parents.

anya

Now, in order to continue seeing her naughty giggles, I have to do something and I don’t know what. She has been diagnosed with something that comes with a deadline – Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare form of brain tumor with no known cause or cure. I have to do something and I don’t know what. But just knowing about it and not doing anything has me at unrest. As soon as I read about this, within microseconds I saw Rohan, my 4-year old nephew and grew a heavy heart. I can’t even begin to imagine what the family is going through.

I request anyone who’s reading this to join your hands in prayer and pray for this little angel. If you can take out a few hours, please research. If you have any connections with doctors and surgeons, please reach out. If you know of any unconventional methods, share your knowledge.

Please share any relevant information on this link: https://www.facebook.com/prayforanya

I have registered for the Malibu half-marathon and I’ll be running for little Anya, for giving her giggles some courage, for giving her family some strength, and for giving God an opportunity for a miracle.

out of sight, out of mind

There are 3 pillows supporting your spine. Your feet have warmed up to a perfect temperature inside the blanket. You connect your HDMI cable from your office laptop to that large flat screen TV and turn on Mad Men Season 6 Episode 5 – there is only one goal and that is to provide your undivided attention to the ever-mysterious Don Draper or the voluptuous Joan Harris – yeah you can take a pause to admire her righteous curves; righteous as they can do no wrong! Just when you realize how wonderful life is and reflect it with a natural smile, your stomach sends another message – ‘I am hungry.” Now you have two options – you can quickly pause, run to the fridge, and grab a slice of multigrain bread and spicy hummus. Or, you can go through the trouble of calling in and driving all the way to Farfalla’s for your favorite margarita pizza. Right in the middle of figuring out whether Don wants to stay with his wife or the ravishing Italian woman, you’re not going to want to leave the site of crime. If I know the Mad Men enthusiasts right, bread & hummus would do just fine.

That’s the trick my friends. Keep the evil away for what is out of sight, is out of mind. Limit the options to healthier ones and keep the temptations at the fancy restaurants. Clean out the pantry and greenify that fridge.

create a goal

Smart Goal

My goals have ranged from trying to forcefully squeeze my thunder thighs into an x-small to getting back to my first driver’s license weight. In order to achieve that particular goal, I have tried every diet a human has ever invented – GM, Atkins, South Beach, Juicing, even the toughest of all – the Lemonade diet. After yo-yoing for the last decade, I am sitting here a little wiser – wiser because I have realized that my goals need to be less superficial and more meaningful. Most of all – they need to follow the SMART principle. 

So after erasing and rewriting my scribbles several times, I’ve finally chosen something that has me super excited. It is legen…wait for it – dary, it is legendary! My personal goal now is to prepare for my old age. I wish to be self-reliant, mobile, and super charged when I am 60, 70, and 80. I am assuming I’ll live forever but why the hell not! So I reviewed all of my previous test results and noted down my BMI, sugar, LDL cholesterol, TSH, and electrolytes. The goal is to improve my numbers by 1% by end of year. It may seem easy and low but bringing down your sugar level by 1-2gms would mean sacrificing that last shot, and opting out of that dark chocolate cake. I don’t want to rush – slow, steady, and sustainable is what I’m going for.

So create a goal that has a larger-than-looks effect. Create one that follows the SMART principle. Create one that is objective, quantitative, and valuable.  

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